December 3, 2013 - 18:42 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Ukrainian lawmakers swatted down a no-confidence measure Tuesday, December 3 proposed by opposition leaders to try to force a new government as tens of thousands of mostly anti-government protesters rallied outside the state parliament building, RIA Novosti said.
Only 186 deputies voted in favor of the measure to force the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government, safely short of the required minimum of 226 votes.
Speaking just before the vote, Azarov promised he would make staff changes in the government, noting the momentum Ukraine’s protest movement has gathered after nearly two weeks in what began as demonstrations over the government’s sudden rejection of a long-awaited trade deal with the European Union.
Arseny Yatsenyuk, leader of the parliament’s Fatherland party faction, said the opposition would still demand the resignation of the government and early presidential and parliamentary elections.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych sparked a wave of protests when he unexpectedly put the brakes on a trade deal with the European Union last month, saying the country's economy would suffer and pledging instead to focus on strengthening ties with Moscow. Russia had repeatedly warned its smaller neighbor against signing the deal, and had threatened stricter customs procedures if it went ahead with the agreements.
Tens of thousands of pro-Western demonstrators have taken to the streets in Kiev and other cities around Ukraine since the announcement on November 21, some carrying signs bearing anti-government slogans and many demanding the resignation of the country’s leadership.
Demonstrations were largely peaceful until early Saturday, when police staged a brutal crackdown to clear Kiev’s Independence Square, the focal point of the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005. The next day, a mob attempted to storm the capital’s presidential administration building. Nearly 300 people were injured in the clashes, about 200 of them police officers, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said Tuesday.
Yanukovych reached back out to the EU on Monday in an apparent attempt to placate protesters. The two sides agreed to resume talks, though the EU said the terms of the deal could not be renegotiated.
Despite the turmoil sweeping Ukraine’s capital Tuesday, the president himself left the country on a scheduled state visit to China until December 6, where he’s expected to sign a bilateral friendship and cooperation agreement.